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Rats are considered one of the most hated garden pests by many. But warding off the unwanted visitors is not always the simplest of tasks. Luckily, gardening experts have revealed four natural yet “effective” methods to banish the vermin from your garden for good, as the Daily Express reports.

Gardeners will also be pleased to hear the simple methods will not pose a risk to their pets or plants, like rat poison and traps do. Instead, you can take comfort that the nocturnal pests can be scared away by other measures, which is welcome news considering they are not only unsightly but can spread potentially serious diseases.

According to gardening experts at Primrose, the following four hacks offer “effective” ways to keep rats away.

Essential oils
Rats are known to have “one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom”, according to the gardening pros.

So, when used in concentration, essential oils, which smell lovely to us, prove potent enough to deter rats.

“Peppermint oil, citronella and eucalyptus essential oils in their pure form are all smells that rats will dislike.”

You can place a few drops around areas you know rats frequent or use cotton wool soaked in oil to the same effect.

Hot pepper
Rats are repelled by spicy seasoning, for much the same reason as they dislike oil, meaning it makes for another brilliant natural deterrent.

Using hot pepper or a spicy alternative will deter rats “forever”, according to the experts.

What’s more, it is easy to make a repellent spray at home. Simply mix cayenne pepper or chilli flakes with water, then heat the mixture vigorously to infuse the chilli.

And once you have allowed it to cool, it is almost ready to be applied; note that the longer you leave it, the more potent the chilli will be.

Next, sieve out any chilli flakes, add a little castile soap, and the spray is ready to go into a bottle to be used. You should apply it liberally to the areas rats visit.

Remove food sources
Rats seek out gardens because they are full of food. Make your garden less attractive to the pests, by removing their favourite snacks.

The experts say: “Compost bins are a treasure trove to rats. Ensure your compost bin is secure and move it away from possible routes of access, such as fences and walls.”

Fallen fruit, or nuts and seeds from bird feeders, are all culprits too.

Buying a squirrel-proof bird feeder and collecting any fallen fruit quickly should do the trick.

Block off potential shelter
And last but not least, don’t encourage rats to make a home in your garden.

They often seek out existing structures like decking or garden buildings.

The experts recommend blocking off any entry areas, no matter how narrow. But be sure to check there are no creatures inside already.

Removing any garden debris and cutting back overgrown vegetation will also help out. Not only does this mean there is less cover, but it will also encourage the rats to move elsewhere, as they do not like it when their territory is disrupted.